Best Japanese Books
(Note: if the author is not Japanese, the book is not Japanese.)
1 Norwegian Wood
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 117,517 ratings
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2 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 100,632 ratings
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3 Kafka on the Shore
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 108,252 ratings
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4 Battle Royale
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 26,229 ratings
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5 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and ...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 46,673 ratings
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6 Out
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 11,160 ratings
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7 Kitchen
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 18,615 ratings
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8 1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 77,095 ratings
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9 After Dark
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 45,952 ratings
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10 Sputnik Sweetheart
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 43,840 ratings
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11 A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 38,552 ratings
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12 South of the Border, West o...
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 34,447 ratings
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13 The Woman in the Dunes
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 8,044 ratings
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14 Dance Dance Dance (The Rat,...
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 31,316 ratings
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15 Snow Country
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 6,853 ratings
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16 Kokoro
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 5,811 ratings
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17 The Tale of Genji
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 5,400 ratings
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18 Grotesque
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 4,739 ratings
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19 Rashomon and Seventeen Othe...
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 4,262 ratings
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20 After the Quake
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 16,697 ratings
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21 I Am a Cat
by
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 2,845 ratings
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22 In the Miso Soup
by
3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 6,742 ratings
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23 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 15,434 ratings
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24 The Sailor Who Fell from Gr...
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 6,254 ratings
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25 The Pillow Book
by
4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 2,688 ratings
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26 Confessions of a Mask
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 5,003 ratings
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27 Ring (Ring, #1)
by
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 6,442 ratings
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28 Goodbye Tsugumi
by
3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 3,895 ratings
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29 Thousand Cranes
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 3,371 ratings
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30 Beauty and Sadness
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 2,939 ratings
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31 The Temple of the Golden Pa...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 4,489 ratings
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32 The Elephant Vanishes
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 17,905 ratings
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33 A Personal Matter
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 4,301 ratings
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34 The Housekeeper and the Pro...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 11,766 ratings
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35 Musashi
by
4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 7,066 ratings
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36 Coin Locker Babies
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 3,174 ratings
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37 No Longer Human
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 3,112 ratings
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38 Underground: The Tokyo Gas ...
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 6,642 ratings
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39 Asleep
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 3,901 ratings
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40 The Makioka Sisters
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 2,607 ratings
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41 Real World
by
3.39 of 5 stars 3.39 avg rating — 3,148 ratings
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42 Spring Snow
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 4,505 ratings
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43 Silence
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 4,463 ratings
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44 1Q84 (1Q84, #1)
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 20,665 ratings
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45 Geisha, a Life
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 10,798 ratings
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46 The Sound of Waves
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 4,354 ratings
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47 Naomi
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 1,950 ratings
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48 Amrita
by
3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 2,666 ratings
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49 Almost Transparent Blue
by
3.34 of 5 stars 3.34 avg rating — 3,210 ratings
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50 N.P.
by
3.56 of 5 stars 3.56 avg rating — 4,240 ratings
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51 Snakes and Earrings
by
3.18 of 5 stars 3.18 avg rating — 2,176 ratings
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52 Botchan
by
3.52 of 5 stars 3.52 avg rating — 3,386 ratings
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53 Audition
by
3.47 of 5 stars 3.47 avg rating — 2,306 ratings
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54 The Sound of the Mountain
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 2,040 ratings
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55 The Box Man
by
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 1,753 ratings
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56 Runaway Horses
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 1,999 ratings
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57 The Book of Tea
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 3,171 ratings
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58 The Silent Cry
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 1,273 ratings
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59 Totto-chan: The Little Girl...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 9,508 ratings
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60 The Devotion of Suspect X
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 6,520 ratings
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61 Hear the Wind Sing (The Rat...
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 3,493 ratings
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62 In Praise of Shadows
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 2,520 ratings
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63 Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids
by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 1,589 ratings
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64 The Master of Go
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 1,700 ratings
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65 Black Rain
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 1,551 ratings
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66 The Setting Sun
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 1,531 ratings
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67 Dark Water
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 1,418 ratings
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68 Shipwrecks
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 729 ratings
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69 Forbidden Colors
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 1,246 ratings
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70 The Old Capital
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 1,359 ratings
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71 Lizard
by
3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 3,110 ratings
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72 The Samurai's Garden
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 12,150 ratings
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73 All She Was Worth
by
3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 1,380 ratings
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74 House of the Sleeping Beaut...
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 2,104 ratings
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75 Kwaidan: Stories and Studie...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 1,105 ratings
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76 The Waiting Years
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 664 ratings
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77 Kastel Awan Burung Gereja (...
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 1,905 ratings
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78 Be With You
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 747 ratings
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79 The Confessions of Lady Nijō
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 218 ratings
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80 The Diary of Lady Murasaki
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 604 ratings
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81 Tales of Moonlight and Rain
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 528 ratings
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82 Uzumaki, Vol. 1
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 3,749 ratings
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83 Anthology of Japanese Liter...
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 281 ratings
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84 GOTH, Volume 1
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,169 ratings
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85 Death in Midsummer and Othe...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,468 ratings
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86 Never Let Me Go
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 204,729 ratings
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87 Fires on the Plain
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 527 ratings
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88 Japanese Tales of Mystery &...
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 957 ratings
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89 The Decay of the Angel
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,355 ratings
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90 The Diving Pool: Three Nove...
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 1,552 ratings
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91 Spiral (Ring, #2)
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 2,345 ratings
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91 The Temple of Dawn
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 1,475 ratings
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93 Some Prefer Nettles
by
3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 1,377 ratings
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94 Teach Us to Outgrow Our Mad...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 951 ratings
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95 Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,265 ratings
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96 Kamikaze Girls
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 849 ratings
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97 The Wild Geese
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 468 ratings
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98 Deep River
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 926 ratings
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99 Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Detec...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 631 ratings
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100 The Three-Cornered World
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 705 ratings
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flag this list (?)
387 books · 1,758 voters · list created June 21st, 2008 by Mitu (votes) .
496 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Mitu
Mitu
89 books
3 friends
Jessica
Jessica
2048 books
97 friends
Holly
Holly
420 books
78 friends
Greyweather
Greyweather
1950 books
52 friends
Joel
Joel
96 books
2 friends
Zoe
Zoe
420 books
41 friends
Jenn
Jenn
1477 books
36 friends
Karen
Karen
892 books
58 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 61) (61 new)


message 1: by Mofo (new)

Mofo Why isn't Battle Royale on this list?


message 2: by Jenni (new)

Jenni If The Unconsoled is on this list, then Never Let Me Goshould be on it.


message 3: by Russell (new)

Russell kazuo ishiguro writes in english.


message 4: by Jenni (new)

Jenni Russell wrote: "kazuo ishiguro writes in english."

Correct, but The Unconsoled is on this list, and it is written by Ishiguro. :)


message 5: by John (new)

John Kerrison Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

It is. 5th one down.


message 6: by Nelliel (new)

Nelliel The Last Concubine by Leslie Downer...


message 7: by Nozomi (new)

Nozomi The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list.


message 8: by Jenni (new)

Jenni Nozomi wrote: "The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list."

Agreed!



message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul JB Kazuo Ishiguro not only writes in English, he IS English. 'The Unconsoled' shouldn't be on this list. It's not even set in Japan.


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston The Mishima novel I've re-read the most (Runaway Horses) isn't on this list, either.


message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn "Shogun" isn't a Japanese book, but I voted for it anyway---great historical novel!


message 12: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Plum Wine By Angela Davis?


message 13: by Cura (new)

Cura I voted on Birthday :)
Lemon Heart was heart shattering...


message 14: by Alex (last edited Jul 19, 2010 04:36AM) (new)

Alex Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro deleted. (not a Japanese book)

see Paul's comments above.

*Also have deleted Memoirs of a Geisha and another Kazuo Ishiguro book "Nocturnals etc.."

Same reason - Not Japanese. Geisha might be about Japan but it wasn't first written in Japanese or by a Japanese person.


message 15: by Yas (new)

Yas Actually Ishiguro was born in Japan so I think that makes him Japanese regardless of which language he writes in.


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul JB (RESURRECTS THREAD)

Yas, you are entirely correct that he was born in Japan, and I believe he still holds Japanese citizenship. But he moved from Nagasaki when he was 5, and he has talked extensively in interviews about his irritation at lazy lit-critics trying to peg his style as Japanese. When he does write about Japan, such as in his first two novels, it is always in a very self-consciously imaginary fashion. So even though you may lay some fair claim to his Japanese ethnicity, the books themselves don't really belong on this list in my humble opinion.


message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex I agree Paul and while Ishiguro has Japanese heritage his books are written in English which don't make them "Japanese" books even if they are about Japan. (still haven't read any of them yet)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmm Geisha, a life by Mineko Iwasaki isn't here either.


message 20: by christokristo (new)

christokristo Ishiguro was born in Japan but move to england while he was 6 or 7 and he already have British citizenship. I think his works should not on be the lists


message 21: by Kirei (new)

Kirei He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included.


message 22: by Trang (new)

Trang Le Kirei wrote: "He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included."

How can his books be included when he was English bred, identifies more with Britain and his books are not concerned about Japan?


message 23: by Livy (new)

Livy just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?


message 24: by Fincalian (new)

Fincalian And what is I was Told There'd be Cake doing on here?


message 25: by Michael (last edited Nov 08, 2011 03:00PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Deleted "Never Let Me Go," "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," and "Catcher in the Rye." In each case, the author is not Japanese, the book was written in English, and the subject matter is not related to Japan. Nothing about these books are Japanese, so they are inappropriate to this list.


message 26: by David (new)

David Incredible list! I have read several of these and saved even more to my "to read" list! I added several more that I thought might belong on this list including:

So Sad to Fall in Battle
Something Like an Autobiography
20th Century Boys
Battle Angel Alita
Japan Atlas
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams
Mishima's Sword
The Rising Sun
A Modern History of Japan
A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
Dreaming Pachinko

The last five on the list are on Japan but not by Japanese authors so not sure which of those would fit best on this list (please delete if you feel necessary, it will not offend me). I own all those books and they are all really good. Great list!


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Wold Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

Because it is a list of "the best" Japanese books. Battle Royale is a classic and a great alternative to Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. I was going to write how it should not be considered "the best" but as I am writing my thoughts I have started to see your point. I wouldn't put it on this list for its amateur craftsmanship and pulpy violence. But I wouldn't object if you put Battle Royale on the list.


message 28: by Alex (new)

Alex Battle Royale is on the list, it's in 4th place and I would hardly call it an alternative to Hunger Games. Hunger Games pretty much ripped off Battle Royale, made it more YA and gave it a female lead to get more readers and it worked.


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Fully agree with Alex.


message 30: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Thank you for the wonderful list! I would like you to include these next time: "Lonely Hearts Killer" by Tomoyuki Hoshino; "The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P" by Rieko Matsuura; "The Doctor's Wife" by Sawako Ariyoshi


message 31: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Masanaka,

Click "add books to this list" at the top of the page and then type in those three books. The list is made by everyone.


message 32: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Hi Michael, thank you for letting me know how this space grow. I have just added the books above and more. Cheers.


message 33: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon No problem, Masanaka.


message 34: by Sizilien (new)

Sizilien I love "The Summer of the Ubume".


message 35: by GlenK (new)

GlenK Didn't see The Tattoo Murder Case on the list. Excellent locked-room mystery set in post-WWII Tokyo.


message 36: by Matīss (new)

Matīss Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?


message 37: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Matīss wrote: "Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?"


I wonder what that means too. I deleted it... again.


message 38: by Mark (last edited Feb 01, 2013 11:49PM) (new)

Mark It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a fictional island nation, not any real place in Japan.


message 39: by Michael (last edited Feb 03, 2013 08:31PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Mark wrote: "It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a f..."

Where the books take place is irrelevant. The author is not Japanese though, so I'll remove the book.


message 40: by Mark (new)

Mark Oh, OK. Though it was just a comment.


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Yep, just clarifying how the list works! Someone managed to remove the book before I got to it. Yay!


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Thanks, Anna!


message 44: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Woodfine This seems a great list, and just what im looking for. Il be honest, ive only really read Haruki Murakami, but want to delve further into Japanese literature. Do any of you guys have any recommendations for the next books to read?


message 45: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon The strange otherworldiness of Kpbo Abe's The Box Man might be a fitting follow-up to Murakami.


message 46: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Great List!


message 47: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!


message 48: by Booklovinglady (last edited Apr 11, 2013 06:55AM) (new)

Booklovinglady The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives in Europe. Therefore, the book has been deleted.


message 49: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Booklovinglady wrote: "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives i..."


Agreed. Good book though.


message 50: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Evan wrote: "Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!"

I particularly liked the story about the girl who was in love with her diver stepbrother (the main story, unsurprisingly). And the Professor and Housekeeper novel she wrote was a gem too.

Didn't like Hotel Iris though.


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